The Colorado Supreme Court Tells Trump No
Today, the Colorado Supreme Court took a step that may give us a preview of what a Trump loss in 2024 could look like. They removed him from the ballot in that state for next year’s election. Their reason, one we’ve discussed here as the case worked its way through the Colorado courts, is that they believe Trump is barred from appearing on ballots for president in Colorado under the 14th Amendment. Section C of the 14th Amendment prohibits a public officer from holding office again if they engage in insurrection after taking an oath to uphold the Constitution.
If you want a review of the case and the issues, here is our layout in the trial court in Colorado, and here we discussed that court’s decision as the case made its way to Colorado’s highest court. Today’s was 4-3, a narrow split among Colorado Justices, that Trump will undoubtedly use to inflame passions.
It looks like the U.S. Supreme Court is going to be busy over the holidays. The case is certain to be appealed to them. But in the meantime, we are likely to get a taste of whether Trump is successful at whipping his base into a frenzy over the loss, even though the Colorado court stayed its decision until after the first of the year, to give SCOTUS the opportunity to hear the case. Colorado’s Secretary of State must certify the candidates for the 2024 presidential primary ballot by January 5 so ballots can be printed for the March 5 primary.
We talk a lot about what will happen if Trump is elected in 2024. But we also need to talk about what could happen if he loses.
We know the answer, of course, because we’ve already lived through it once before. We know Trump will lie and say he won. He will claim the election was stolen from him and that Democrats engaged in massive fraud. He will go to court, where he will lose, but he will drag things out and try to undermine confidence in the outcome of the election. And regrettably, some number of his followers will believe him, again, and perhaps even hear his criticism as a call to action.
There is one way to make it hard for Trump to do that and it’s to vote in record numbers. It’s to hand Trump a loss that is so numerically overwhelming that it makes claims of fraud demonstrably false. And it’s within our ability to deliver that kind of resounding result in 2024 if people get out and vote.
There are a lot of reasons people don’t vote. It can be inconvenient or downright difficult if you have to wait in a long line at the end of a workday with children who need your attention. For some, the fact that their perfect candidate isn’t on the ballot may mean they decide to sit this one out. For others, a principled difference with a candidate on one important issue may mean they feel like they can’t vote for them.
We’ve got to make sure that none of this happens in 2024 and now is the time to start talking with the people around you about it. Democracy will be on the ballot next year in a very real sense. It’s important to beat Trump at the ballot box and to beat him so convincingly that everyone understands that the result is the will of the people. The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout this century with 66.8% of eligible voters casting a ballot. That means that more than 33% of voters stayed home.
Elections matter. You’re not just picking a president—you’re electing state leaders who will determine what kind of taxes you pay and a mayor impacts issues like how local dollars are used. You’ll be electing school board members who decide what books your kids can read. You’re electing a sheriff who determines law enforcement priorities and how his deputies will be trained and what standards they’ll have to live up to. You may be voting for legislators who will decide if women in your state will have a right to an abortion—or an exception if there isn’t one for the mother’s health. There are dozens of reasons to get out and vote in every election. But they are all amplified in this next one. And topping them all is the need to do everything we can to prevent Trump from launching a dangerous narrative that leads to civil unrest.
So, for Christmas, give the country a gift. Convince young voters around you that their voices matter. Tufts University’s Tisch College, which tracks younger voters, estimated that only 27% percent of 18-to-29-year-olds who were eligible cast ballots in the 2018 midterm elections as opposed to 47% of all voters. But they estimate that 50% of younger voters participated in the 2020 election, up from 39% in 2016. Younger voters turnout when they feel directly impacted by an election. Invest time in talking with them about what’s at stake.
For those who didn’t grow up in a house with adults who were engaged in the process, voting can seem unfamiliar or difficult. Earlier today I spoke with a voting activist who told me about how she, as a college student, took a young woman who had never voted before to register, and then to the polls. She said it was an honor to get to help her friend and also that it’s something the other woman has never forgotten.
We can all do something just like that—whether it’s a first-time voter, or someone else who needs our help. As we begin talking with people around us about voting, we can be the ones to identify needs, whether it’s keeping an eye on younger children while their parents vote, offering someone a ride or help in getting necessary identification, or offering assistance in deciphering the confusing rules some states have for completing absentee ballots, which, when not followed to the letter, result in a ballot being discarded.
There are lots of opportunities to help and the best way to find them is to start talking and planning with people now. It may seem early, but the Iowa caucuses are less than a month away. Visiting with friends and family over the holidays and new years is exactly the right time to get started. And, we’ll all be holding our breath a little bit as we see how Trump responds to the news from Colorado. It should be unthinkable for a serious candidate for the presidency to be so volatile and have so little regard for the rule of law that his compliance with a court’s decision cannot be taken for granted. But here we are.
We’re in this together,